Halloween is upon us and in the New Labour paradise in which we now live, the BBC reports that 1.7 million of us are frightened to venture out on the streets of Britain after dark. It's a sobering statistic and police are gearing up to deal with this annual product of the pumpkin marketing industry, by promising to issue £80 fines for anti-social behaviour. Finding the police walking the streets after dark might be more effective.
In fact Halloween here is unlike the Halloween I remember from living in the USA. There's a more provocative and unpleasant undercurrent, if you listen to the BBC news report, with the elderly in or on the fringes of large estates dreading the evening to come. I do wonder how many might actually have heart attacks brought on by the stress that comes with hearing marauding gangs of teenagers or "kidults" coming to the door and demanding "Trick or treat". The sad thing about it all is that it's an imposition and not an option. Business has decided that such a thing should exist and make money and has gone to considerable lengths to modify social behaviour in order to encourage a quasi-American perception of the "celebration." For those that would rather be left in peace, celebrate it as a friendly community effort for kids, or simply ignore it, can't, there's no opt-out where marauding pumpkins and hooded witches are concerned.
Watching Sky News interviewing solidiers in Iraq, I was struck by the comments that people at home "have a go" at them for what they're doing over there. We've lost too many of our people in this rather hopeless war, I would agree but the men and women of the armed forces are doing a thankless job and placing their lives on the line because it's their duty, not because they necessarily want to be shot at by the militia and the Taleban.
I recall years ago and when a very different enemy was involved, the Argentinians, that public support was high but as a soldier, if you wanted decent kit and even waterproof socks - very important in the Falkland Islands- , you had to do your shopping at Millets. Today, the personal shopping part is still largely true but when the troops are fighting in the most intense actions since the Korean war and you have well-reported incidents, such as a wounded soldier harangued in an NHS hospital ward, one wonders why some members of the public forget so easily that the armed services swear allegiance to the Queen and it's only an unhappy political coincidence that they happen to be the unfortunate but very brave instruments of a bungled foreign policy initiative in the Middle East.